Jenna Le

How I Know Implicit Bias Exists
by Jenna Le

Turn right on Mascoma, left on Glen, left on Main, left on Interchange.
I recited this like a nursery rhyme until I knew it by heart.
Then, to be extra sure I wouldn’t mess up, I also punched the destination
into my GPS, turned the volume up loud.

I went off course within minutes. Despite my GPS, despite my angelic
intentions. I had cut my teeth driving the right-
angled blocks of Manhattan, but the intersections here were shaped like
scalenes, buckyballs, Emily Dickinson’s envelope poems.

When the GPS shrilled, “Turn left!”, I turned left, but not far enough left,
and I lost the election. Just kidding. I didn’t lose the election, but I lost
all sense of where I was. Got sucked into the suicide-spiral-
that-should-have-been-a-rotary outside the scrappy Cambodian

sandwich shop. Cars piled up behind me as I slowed to figure out
where the hell I was. Not wanting the other drivers to groan, “That awful
Asian woman driver!”, I picked up my pace, figuring that
not confirming people’s stereotypes was more important

than getting where I needed to go. When I got to forks in the road
I made decisions at random. Quick was more important than correct.
The GPS kept shrilling, but it sounded
like a foreign language now. “Take High Street!” it twittered,

but there was no High Street in sight. “In 800 feet, make a U-turn,”
it begged, but I didn’t want to die. Yesterday I taught a class
of high school students. The topic was women writers. After I got home
I realized I had talked about two male writers I liked and somehow forgot

to mention any women writers at all. You think I’m joking,
but I have always prided myself on being a feminist. Yet there I had stood
in front of these kids, unconsciously
calling on boys more often as girls. I never found the Interchange.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 19, Issue 2.

Jenna Le
Jenna Le, a daughter of Vietnamese refugees, is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Anchor & Plume, 2016). Her poetry has appeared in AGNI Online, The Best of the Raintown Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, and Massachusetts Review. Her website is jennalewriting.com.

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